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2015 Summer Research Scholars Program

Horticulture Research Projects

What project will you work on during your internship as a Summer Research Scholar?  You should chose three (3) projects from the list below and note them in order of preference (e.g., 2, 4, 1) at the bottom of the APPLICATION FORM.  We will do our best to accommodate your top choice.

Faculty members associated with each project are also listed.  You can read more about their programs by clicking on their names.

Apple Trees

1. Space saving columnar apple trees!

Although most apple trees branch and grow rapidly in size, there are compact ones, called columnar apple trees, which are slow in growth, have little branching, and require less space and pruning in orchards. Join us in the ongoing hunt to uncover the columnar genes, while learning basic techniques in plant genomics, such as DNA and RNA isolation, DNA sequencing, and gene expression analysis.
Lab: 90%, Field or greenhouse: 10%.

Faculty: Xu

willow flower

2. Sex determination in willow

Our lab conducts breeding and genomics of shrub willow as a sustainable feedstock for bioenergy and biofuels. Willow is dioecious (plants are either male or female), and we have mapped the locus that genetically determines sex.  You will study the genes at this locus to elucidate the mechanism of sex determination.
Lab: 60%, Field: 40%

Faculty: L. Smart

Exploring Natural Colors in Vegetables

3. Exploring Natural Colors in Vegetables

Work within a plant breeding program exploring different colors in vegetables. Evaluate colors and their concentrations in different plant tissues and help to create a more colorful future for vegetables.
Lab: 50% Field: 50%

Faculty: Griffiths

Apple Tree

4. That can’t be an apple tree!!

Most apples are Malus x domestica or cultivated apple, but there are over 25 Malus species that can be used in breeding or to study the genes influencing plant architecture, leaf morphology and flowering. When these species are crossed, apple interspecific hybrids are created. This project will explore the phenotypic and genotypic diversity of some of these hybrids. Study of these unique plants will change your view of what an apple tree should look like.
60% field, 40% laboratory

Faculty: Brown

Dont get burned

5. Hop onto willow

Certain cultivars of shrub willow bioenergy crops are very sensitive to a common insect pest, potato leafhopper (Empoasca fabae), which causes leaf curling and tip dieback called ‘hopperburn’. Initial research suggests that resistance is related to host preference. You will do choice and no choice feeding experiments, then collect tissue for RNA extraction and RNA-Seq to better understand the genetic basis of potato leafhopper resistance in willow.
Lab: 80% Field: 20%

Faculty: L. Smart

Willow Field

6. Genes to fight the evil “black rot” of grapevines

Guignardia bidwellii, the fungus that black rot, can infect all vegetative structures and fruit of susceptible grapevines.  In organic farming, it is nearly impossible to stop the spread of black rot using approved treatments.  As a result, we are trying to identify and develop new genetic markers tagging genes for black rot disease resistance.  These markers will be used in marker-assisted breeding to develop new resistant grape cultivars.  During the summer, you will help to evaluate black rot disease resistance in two families used for genetic map development.  You will split your time between the lab and the field.  In addition, at certain times you will be asked to work some non-conventional hours to complete time sensitive fieldwork.
Field: 50%, Lab: 50%

Faculty: Reisch

Apple Diversity

7. Do you like sour apples?

Which apple(s) do you like the most? The traditional McIntosh, Golden Delicious, Jonagold or new apple varieties such as Honeycrisp, New York 1 and New York 2, and why? Your answers may vary widely, but fruit sourness (acidity) or sweetness is most likely among the factors that affect your preference. Wondering about what apple fruit acidity is, how widely fruit acidity levels may vary in apple, what causes fruit acidity, and how fruit acidity is determined at the genetic and molecular levels? Please come and have a bite of one of our research projects that studies apple fruit acidity!
Lab 90%, Field or greenhouse 10%.

Faculty: Xu


8. Genes for hybrid vigor in willow

Little is known about the genetic basis for hybrid vigor, even though it occurs in many crops - even in shrub willow. You will use genetic mapping techniques to identify genes involved in important biomass yield traits. By the end of the summer, you will have characterized some of the underlying genetic factors controlling complex traits.
Lab: 30% Field: 70%

Faculty: L. Smart